Changing my Pacha

While convalescing and getting fat I’ve been buying things to make me feel better. And what does one buy when one wants to cheer oneself up? A new rear cassette, of course.

My new ‘pacha’ (Colombian Spanish for ‘cassette’, according to one of my cycling clients) is in the mail:

downloadI know what you’re saying. “Gerry, this new pacha looks just like your old pacha.” Well, count your dientes, amigo – this one has 11 on the small ring and 25 on the biggest (the one I have now is 12-27).  As I said back in March, I’d try out this new combination of gears and see how things went. Well, I have been doing this without actually buying the cluster (e.g. on Ventoux last month) and I’m finding that I don’t need the 27 unless things get stupidly steep (like Mt. Bouquet). None of the climbs in the Alps will be 20%, so I have growing confidence that I can survive with 25.

The question that hasn’t been answered yet is if I have enough power to make use of the 11 on a flats. But I don’t care. I’ve made my buy, my pacha is in the mail, and I feel good. It might go without saying, but Mt. Bouquet may not be on many of my training rides again this season!

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14 thoughts on “Changing my Pacha

  1. Very useful discussion and decisions, Gerry. I am just going through the same thinking. At one point was considering standard but the suggestions to “think about how you will feel in day 5” and “to have a backup gear” convince me to go with a compact–definitely 34, may still consider a 51 IF I have to buy a new chainring to replace my 50 (which does have an issue). For the back, I believe I will be receiving a very nice SRAM red 11-26. But I will also bring an 11-28 that I can easily put on if I need it… Next topic is wheels: carbon or alu (breaking); tubular or clincher (rolling over). If I find time I’ll write a little blog entry…

    • I’d love to read that article. I don’t want to over-think it, and I am pretty sure either cluster will be just fine, but there could be benefits (e.g. on descents) to having a bigger gear to play with. I’ll do the same as you and take along my 12-27 because, as you probably rightly stated, it’s Day Five we might need to be concerned about.

  2. Hi Gerry, I couldn’t understand if you’ll have a 39, 36, or 34 as the small chain ring? In general, I found a 11-25 11sp campa no issue in HR 2011/20012 with a 36 in the front. If you only have a 39 small ring, then I’d suggest a 27 or 29 at the rear, but otherwise a 36x 25 should be alright for a tour in the alps.

    • Rich, I might not have mentioned it because my assumption is everyone is running a 34! Which isn’t true, obviously. So, it’d be 34×25, which is probably giving you a good chuckle right now.

  3. Hi Gerry, I tested myself on my last ride to see if I could make it up the 3km x 9-10% portion of my loop in the 26 tooth ring and it seemed to go ok. It could have been the hail encouraging me to pedal harder. I use a compact. I was actually thinking of going up to a 28 though. I’m thinking more of the cumulative effect of the HR. I’ve not had a mont ventoux like ride yet to gauge my progress so a bit in the dark on what’s best. Is it easy to change a cassette? Or does one have to change the chain and adjust dérailleur etc? I was quoted around 200 francs.

    • What do you have on the back now? 27? Actually, even a Ventoux climb or three probably can’t replicate the accumulative fatigue we’ll be feeling after a few days on HR. I’ll be doing a ‘training camp’ next month that should give me a better idea, since it’ll involve a stupid amount of climbing.

      It’s easy to change my cassette, but I have a Campy set-up. I’ve change Shimano, too, which I don’t remember being difficult at all. No adjustment just be necessary, but good question about the chain. I’m really not sure. Something to ask Google (or coach) about!

  4. Gerry – I rode the 17km, ITT Hill climb in the Tour de Slocan on the 3 day of the 4 day event with a compact Campy front (50/34) and 11/25 cassette and was never lower than my 23 and generally in my 21 and 19. The grade was as low as 5% in some sections and as high as 13%. That said, I still bringing my 12//27 with me to Haute Route.

    • I think that’s the current wisdom on the blog, i.e. come with something ‘aggressive’ and back it up with something ‘realistic’!

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